Welcome to the Animal Behaviour Clinic

Orla Doherty

Animals have been used by humans for a variety of purposes, including as a source of food, for hunting, for mobility, to help win battles, for sport - and most recently, for companionship. Whether we are dog or cat lovers, horseriders or owners, through the course of our relationship with our animals, many of us will be faced with problem behaviours, such as aggression, excessive barking, destructiveness (dogs), spraying, fear problems, aggression (cats), bucking, refusing to load into trailers, rearing, shying (horses).


So why do problems arise? In investigating and treating behaviour problems, many factors need to be taken into account, including the animal's breeding (what genetic makeup the animal has inherited from it's parents), health, previous experience, normal behaviour patterns of that species (dogs will display very different normal behaviours to cats, or to horses) and motivational factors (what things are important to that species, e.g., it may be very important to a dog to protect it's territory, horses rarely protect territory, but are very motivated to spend time with other horses, and to graze).


Treatment of behaviour problems using scientific knowledge about all of the above factors is a relatively recent development, spanning only the last 60 years approximately, but in that time, major advances have been made, and continue to be made, in our understanding of what causes behaviour problems to develop - and equally importantly - how these problems can be treated.